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Blagojevich lawyers appeal conviction, sentence

Lawyers for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich filed an appeal [text, PDF] with the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official site] just before a midnight deadline on Monday, challenging Blagojevich's conviction and sentencing. Blagojevich was found guilty on 18 charges of corruption in his second trial and ultimately sentenced to a 14-year prison term [JURIST reports]. He has served 16 months in a federal prison in Chicago. The appeal alleges that there was a problem with a member of the jury who showed bias against Blagojevich, as well as with the actions of the judge. Blagojevich's legal team filed in June for permission to submit an appeal of unusual length, due to the complexities of the trial. The final appeal is more than 100 pages long.

Lawyers first filed notice of appeal [JURIST report] in June 2011. Blagojevich was initially found guilty [JURIST report] in 2010 of making false statements to the FBI, but the jury remained deadlocked on 23 additional charges. The prosecutors dropped some of the charges [JURIST report] to simplify the case for retrial, including charges for racketeering. In January 2009 the Illinois State Senate voted unanimously [JURIST report] to convict Blagojevich of abuse of power and remove him from office. Blagojevich and his former chief of staff John Harris were initially arrested [JURIST report] in December 2008 on corruption charges, including allegations that they conspired to sell the Senate seat left vacant by US President Barack Obama.

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